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August 9, 2000

Tiger Woods


LEE PATTERSON: Good afternoon. Thank you so much for spending some time with us. Third trip back to the Buick Open. First two were Top-10s. Maybe just a couple of thoughts about what you saw on the course today and how you feel heading into the tournament; then we will open it up for questions.

TIGER WOODS: Well, I thought the golf course was a little bit wet today, obviously, with the rain, but the greens were extremely smooth which they were every year here. That is one of the reasons we all come here. I have had some pretty good success here. I have played well, and just -- this golf course, you need to drive the golf ball well. That is one of the things that I enjoy about playing this golf course. Also kind of neat going out there and playing and teeing off at the same time with the group on 10 and seeing them around for 18 holes - a little bit different. But today -- I played all right today. I broke 80 which was good. Looking forward to tomorrow.

LEE PATTERSON: Any questions?

Q. Obviously (inaudible) Tigermania --

TIGER WOODS: Be honest with you, I don't know. It really didn't die down as much as people thought it did in 1997, 1998 and came right back up again. But that is just the way it goes. It is going to go up-and-down, ebb and flow; that is just the way success is.

Q. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I think any time you have a runaway, it is intriguing to watch, just to see what they are going to do. They are going to come back to the field or push on, go forward. And it is intriguing. And I have always been interested in tournaments where guys do run away from it, from the field, just because of the fact that -- how they are going to do it; are they going to keep making birdies or are the guys going to come get him - just plays for a different type of plot, but it is hard for me to say exactly why. Maybe that is part of it; might be something else, I don't know.

Q. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: You asked me that twice and I really don't know. We will see what happens.

Q. Do you notice any difference in the reaction from the gallery in 1997 compared to now (inaudible) --

TIGER WOODS: I think back in 1997 a lot more intense, the fans were, I guess, more jubilant, more excitable. And maybe it is just different - either I wasn't used to it or the fact maybe they just were that way. But I think any time someone is new on to the scene, no matter what the sport is, I think there is always going to be a little bit more ambition to watch them and get a glimpse of them versus when they have been there a little bit.

Q. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I am used to it.

Q. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I think it is hard to say. Not if they love what they do. It is really difficult to say or even -- I don't think I have ever seen anyone love the job and get burned out doing it. I don't think I have ever seen that. It might be.

Q. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Probably the opposite. I have actually enjoyed playing it more because of -- I have a great appreciation for the game, in a different way; to play it and I am learning a lot of different things that, as you get better, you start to learn it even more. I come here to win this tournament, but also in the back of my mind where -- I don't need to make any major changes going into next week. If I need to change anything this week, it will be done this week; not next week.

Q. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I am quite aware -- I was pretty aware of basically all the great champions of the game; not just Jack - just the media and the public has focused on that. I have been pretty aware of what they have accomplished and what they have meant to the game and what they contributed. They were great champions; all played differently. I think that is one of the unique things about the past is that they have played in so many different unique styles.

Q. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: I think obviously from what I have been told - never been able to see him in person, the way that people describe his ball-striking ability or no one has ever struck the ball as consistently and controlled their trajectory and spin the way he was able to - once he changed his golf swing more to a slider. You always can't win that many tournaments just by hitting good balls. You have got to make your share of putts. People say, yeah, he struggled toward the end of his career, but to win four] U.S. Opens and the Grand Slam, I mean, you cannot putt poorly. You got to be able to make some big putts. He was just all-around player.

Q. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: You could see how intense it was out there in that event because I had a 5-shot lead at the time. I was playing 13th hole, 12th hole, sorry, I made bogey there, 3-putts; 13, make double. Sergio makes double. All of a sudden I had -- went from 5 to 1. I had to dig deep to hit the shots. The gallery was getting on me. They wanted to see Sergio win the tournament. I had to block that out. It took a lot of mental discipline to step up there and bury that putt on 17 with all the things going on and then hit the best shot I have hit all week on 18. That tee shot, a little two-yard draw, just the way I wanted to. And it is just, for some reason, reached for the strength from inside, that is one reasons I was relieved at the end because just mentally it took so much out of me.

Q. After the British Open you took some time off. Do you completely get away from the game? (inaudible) --

TIGER WOODS: I did take some time off. I didn't touch a club. It was nice actually to practice again down in Florida on grass that was receptive. It was nice to actually have some (inaudible) underneath the golf ball, start practicing again; my practice sessions have been very good. I did get away from it. Now I am back in it. It is a lot of fun to start practicing, seeing some results.

Q. You mentioned getting your game ready for next week. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: What stood out more than anything was you really do have to drive the ball well and basically every major you have got to do that. Now at Augusta, you have got a little bit of rough. Now all four majors you have to drive the ball well. And that golf course is a typical Nicklaus golf course where he gives you room off the tee, but he makes it a little more challenging coming into the greens. You do have to hit the fairways. Does give you a little room to put the ball in the fairway from there. You got to hit some precise shots. If you are playing well, you can use the slopes to your advantage - spin the ball off the slopes; let it roll an extra 15 feet, ten feet, and -- which is what you normally do if you are playing well, driving the golf ball well, the greens become bigger because you can use the slopes to bring the ball into the hole. If you are struggling, for some reason you tend to catch the opposite side and the ball tends to roll away from it.

Q. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Not really. Obviously back nine is completely different than the front 9. You are more out of, I guess, parkland area; then you go back up in the trees on the back 9, so it is a little bit different, completely different contrast and pick out your aiming points and your lines.

Q. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: People don't give him enough credit for playing that week because he was hurt pretty good and as you saw, he pulled out of Sprint and pulled out of this week. He is just not feeling that well for him to suck it up and play that well in a major championship. We are talking about when we are playing -- just wasn't a major, I wouldn't go. I would have been home by now. (inaudible) Just goes to show you he sucked it up and he played through some pretty good pain and he played beautifully and when he gets healthy, I think David is going to be a pretty good force.

Q. Tiger, I am sure you thought about the (inaudible) all the other great players (inaudible) what has that meant to you as a player just the first few years as a professional?

TIGER WOODS: As a player it is nice to get the recognition for good hard work and the result that you want. But it is something that you never really think about. When you are out there hitting balls, as a kid, you are playing against -- you have three balls - three, four balls out there. You are Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus or Hogan, whomever it was, I'd pick random guys and you'd play those balls. You never even dreamed of having to do press conferences and sit down and do these type of things or sign autographs or take pictures or things that come with playing well. You never thought about that because you never even realized it or even thought about it. As I got older and had experienced it, different story. Then I started -- reality set in and that is just part of the responsibility of playing well.

Q. The enormity of being on the cover of Time Magazine (inaudible) you say you are used to all this. Any impact on you when that kind of stuff happens?

TIGER WOODS: From what I have been told, it is a pretty great honor to be on the cover of Time, but I guess I may not have the perspective that I should at this point in time. It is quite an honor but I don't think I have the appreciation for it yet. Just like when I, for instance, when I won The Masters people said it is a great accomplishment. I thought I just won a tournament and took a vacation. I didn't really realize what I had accomplished for another two years or so. So it may take a little time for me to actually appreciate and understand what the significance is of being on the cover of Time.

Q. Last week at The INTERNATIONAL Ernie Els was very, very complimentary. He finished runnerup in the last two majors to you. He more or less said, it made his life a lot easier you not being around when he won. How do you see Ernie as a challenger to you next week?

TIGER WOODS: I think Ernie is playing -- has played well all year and really has got his game back. He is putting well and with that great tempo tends to hold up under pressure really well. His easy going demeanor just makes it even easier for him to handle stressful situations a little bit easier than most. He doesn't really get riled up. He understands how to play major championships - won two - been there in countless others. He is going to be a tough person to beat next week, but there are others. We both have to play well next week in order for us to have a chance.

Q. (inaudible) he wouldn't mention you by name. He just called you "you know who." That is just sort of an intimidation factor --

TIGER WOODS: It is just one of those things; didn't see it, for one, and it is nice for him to acknowledge me, I guess. But he did win the tournament. He is playing well. And we will see what happens when we play next week. As I said, we both have to play well for us to even worry about each other. Hopefully that we will get to that point. But we will see what happens.

Q. In your mind what are the pros and cons of playing the week before a major and kind of what factors (inaudible) --

TIGER WOODS: If you play a golf course that is really, I think, difficult and the fact that you are going to wear yourself out mentally, then I think for me, that is probably not the best decision to make. This golf course always lends itself to low scores and you got to make a lot of birdies which means that you don't only have to be grinding it out that hard -- miss-hit a shot, you are making bogey automatically. It is not that type of golf course. From that standpoint, you are not going to really wear yourself out mentally. (2) this golf course is beautiful and from the standpoint, you get to use your driver. I played Valhalla yesterday and saw that you are going to have to use your driver quite a bit especially since they have -- all the rain that they have gotten; supposed to get some more toward next week or so with the fronts coming together which means that you are going to have to use your driver. So this is a wonderful preparation to able to step up there and hit drivers on somewhat of a narrow golf course, have to shape your shots correctly, to going into next week, it is not a big change where, all of a sudden, bring out the driver and use it. You have already been used to it accustomed to it. On top of that, these greens have always been good year in, year out. That is one of the reasons why the scores are so low because the greens are always perfect.

Q. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Western, I finish 23rd, I think? The Western I did putt poorly and as well as L.A. Open, but L.A. Open I did tinker around with my grips a little bit on my irons and drivers and actually all my clubs. I didn't strike the ball as well as I would like. I did putt poorly, granted the greens were not as good as they should have been or could have been. And I remember that week I had a 4-putt; few 3-putts. Notah had a 4-putt. Casey had a 4-putt. Jesper 4-putted. Vijay 4-putted. When you get that many players making 4 and 5 putts, you know the greens aren't what they should be.

Q. Probably the top-30 or 40 guys in the ranking in the world can't win a major. But it is becoming pretty much common knowledge in the world now that there is an intimidation factor. The question is do you consciously feel that intimidation factor as the intimidator and do you do anything to increase that? Secondly have you ever been intimidated on the golf course?

TIGER WOODS: Second part is, yeah, I have been intimidated once in my entire life and that was back when I was 11 years old playing the junior world at Mission Bay and first hole is 270 yards, 12 year old, step up there and drove the green about 15 feet. At the time I was not a very long hitter and that was a little intimidating even though I shot 2-, 3-under that day and beat him. I was intimidated. I cost myself to win the tournament that day. Talked to my dad about it and there is no reason to be intimidated in this game. You go out there and give it everything you have and see what happens. As far as playing right now, I guess only way only way to ever increase the intimidation factor, if it does exist, is to play well and is to win tournaments. Simple as that. If you don't win, if you are there every time finishing second, really doesn't really mean much or finishing third, Top 5 you got to win. And fortunately enough, I have won my share of tournaments.

Q. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: Not when you are out there, you don't really look at it how you feel when you are focused on -- you are looking at the ground, looking at your shots, you really don't pay attention to what other guys -- how they are looking; what their body language is. A lot of times you are not playing with them. It is rare against, nowadays, that two guys in the same tournament are playing with a chance to win are on the back nine on Sunday, are in the final group together. Usually tend to be a two, three group spread for some reason. I guess do I feel it? No, I don't think so. When I start playing I am focused on what I need to do, how to get the ball in the hole as fast as I can.

Q. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: That is the key right there we play so many tournaments, and the difference is that we don't have an off-season. We play from first week in January to the first week in November and then usually that is when the season starts or you go to the other Tours to play there. So it really isn't an off-season. Most sports, yeah, they take four, five months off where they don't do anything. So you can go hard for a while knowing the fact that you are going to have that much time off. In this sport you don't. So it is hard to pace yourself knowing the fact that if you play too much, you are not going to have enough at the end of the year when you may have a few things on the line, such as major championships, or money title, Vardon Trophy, whatever it may be. You may have a few titles on the line, or it is really hard. Also get a balance in your life too, if you play 45 events, you are not going to have -- I hope you guys will come visit me in a padded room, but that probably won't be the case.

Q. (inaudible)

TIGER WOODS: You try to, but then again, you have to understand what are your main priorities. For me, it is winning majors. I try and devote my schedule to try and get ready for those tournaments and peak at these four times a year and see what happens. Yeah, I would like to play more events. I would like to play as I told Tim, yeah, I would love to play in more events, but the reality of it is when I play an event it is not like an event where I can go out there and no one is out there following me on the practice round or Pro-Am or I can walk from here to the clubhouse, kind of walk on the cart path with my spikes and no one knows who I am. It is not the case.

End of FastScripts…

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